The long noncoding RNA H19 regulates tumor plasticity in neuroendocrine prostate cancer.

Singh N, Ramnarine VR, Song JH, Pandey R, Padi SKR, Nouri M, Olive V, Kobelev M, Okumura K, McCarthy D, et al. 2021. The long noncoding RNA H19 regulates tumor plasticity in neuroendocrine prostate cancer. Nat Commun. 12:7349. doi:10.1038/s41467-021-26901-9.

Neuroendocrine (NE) prostate cancer (NEPC) is a lethal subtype of castration-resistant prostate cancer (PCa) arising either de novo or from transdifferentiated prostate adenocarcinoma following androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). Extensive computational analysis has identified a high degree of association between the long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) H19 and NEPC, with the longest isoform highly expressed in NEPC. H19 regulates PCa lineage plasticity by driving a bidirectional cell identity of NE phenotype (H19 overexpression) or luminal phenotype (H19 knockdown). It contributes to treatment resistance, with the knockdown of H19 re-sensitizing PCa to ADT. It is also essential for the proliferation and invasion of NEPC. H19 levels are negatively regulated by androgen signaling via androgen receptor (AR). When androgen is absent SOX2 levels increase, driving H19 transcription and facilitating transdifferentiation. H19 facilitates the PRC2 complex in regulating methylation changes at H3K27me3/H3K4me3 histone sites of AR-driven and NEPC-related genes. Additionally, this lncRNA induces alterations in genome-wide DNA methylation on CpG sites, further regulating genes associated with the NEPC phenotype. Our clinical data identify H19 as a candidate diagnostic marker and predictive marker of NEPC with elevated H19 levels associated with an increased probability of biochemical recurrence and metastatic disease in patients receiving ADT. Here we report H19 as an early upstream regulator of cell fate, plasticity, and treatment resistance in NEPC that can reverse/transform cells to a treatable form of PCa once therapeutically deactivated.